Why did George join BJP? Lalu was one reason

Last Updated 29 January 2019, 14:32 IST

"I tried many doors. I went to BJP only when all other doors were closed. I was facing a wall. There was nowhere else to go."

Many had wondered how die-hard socialist George Fernandes ended up in the saffron-fold and the now-no-more leader had once said that all secular, left-wing parties kept him at arms-length for fear of antagonizing his bete-noire Lalu Prasad.

Fernandes, the hero of the 1974 railway strike who as a minister in the Morarji Desai cabinet showed the exit doors for IBM and Coca Cola in the late 1970s, had his compulsions to join the alliance led by BJP, a Hindutva party, and he almost puts the blame at the doors of Prasad.

Fernandes and Prasad had a running battle when they were in erstwhile Janata Dal and it had led to the former's exit along with now Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and others. Several put the onus on Kumar for the split as he forced Fernandes to take a decision.

He had opened up about his joining hands with BJP 20 years ago with eminent writer Amitav Ghosh, who interviewed him for his book 'Countdown', a narrative on the second nuclear tests in Pokhran in 1998.

When the question was put to Fernandes, he spoke of his mentor Ram Manohar Lohia who had advised him to be “always flexible” to maintain a dialogue with every stream of politics.

“He spoke of his bitter feud with a former protege, Laloo Yadav, a power Bihar politician. Then suddenly he cut himself short. Look, he said, I'm rationalizing."

Recalling his conversation with Fernandes, who wanted to be a Catholic priest when he was young, Ghosh wrote, "he had tried desperately hard to reach agreements with various secular, left-wing parties. None of them would touch him for fear of antagonizing his arch enemy, Lalu Prasad." Fernandes told Ghosh that he had gone to the BJP as the “last resort”.

(Published 29 January 2019, 07:43 IST)

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